Chinese stocks slightly up
China stocks have risen slightly after the securities regulator denied media reports it was cracking down on fundraising and mergers and acquisitions in certain sectors, helping to offset disappointing April economic data.
Hong Kong shares also gained, taking cues from upbeat Japan stocks.
China's blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.3 percent to 3,083.26 points by the lunch break on Monday, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent to 2,833.48 points.
The market had dropped for four weeks in a row amid increasing concerns that a recent pick-up in China's economic activity may be fizzling out.
Confidence was also hit last week by media reports saying China would suspend additional fundraising and M&As in four industries, including online finance, gaming, film and virtual reality.
But most stocks in those sectors rose on Monday, after the securities regulator denied the report late on Friday and said it would continue to support M&As by qualified listed companies, with no change to existing policies.
Although data released over the weekend showed that China's investment, factory output and retail sales all grew more slowly than expected in April, much of the impact had already been priced in.
"It appears that all the engines suddenly lost momentum, and growth outlook has turned soft as well," Zhou Hao, economist at Commerzbank in Singapore, said in a research note.
"At the end of the day, we have to acknowledge that China is still struggling."
Reflecting weak investor sentiment, trading remained light, while outstanding margin financing - money investors borrowed to buy stocks - fell for six consecutive days.
Consumer and healthcare sectors advanced, while real estate and transportation shares dipped.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 1.2 percent to 19,959.71 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index gained 0.9 percent to 8,379.25.